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Georgia Tann worked at the Tennessee Children's Home Society. Which was an orphanage house where a large number of children lived. Tann was involved in multiple scandals while working at the Tennessee Children's Home Society, such as "stealing" children and selling them to people of the higher class. From selling these children to people of the highest social class, she became extremely wealthy. Tann also abused physically and sexually children that lived at the home.


  • Tennessee Children's Home Society
  • Where Georgia Tann resided before her death.
  • Georgia Tann

Georgia Tann was a successful woman who lived from 1891 to 1950. Tann while working at the Tennessee Children’s Home Society, had arranged thousands of adoptions from the years of 1924 and 1950.1 The Tennessee Children’s Home Society was a foster home where large numbers of children were housed. While Tann was working at the Tennessee Children’s Home Society she was involved in various scandals. Some of these involved Tann putting non-white children on on top of hot coal, children also recall at a later times in their lives being physically abused, and sexually abused by Tann. One child spoke about being in a big bed, and being stripped naked then sexually assaulted by Georgia Tann and other workers at the Tennessee Children’s Home Society.2 Although she abused the children that were put into her care, the biggest scandal Tann was a part of was the stealing of babies. It was concluded by officials that Georgia Tann was organizing and a part of the illegal adoption of children.3

Georgia Tann was a woman who operated as a adoption agent out of Memphis, Tennessee through the Tennessee Children’s Home Society. While she worked at the Tennessee Children’s Home Society she began falsifying different children’s birth certificates.4 People that were in the top social class would come to Georgia Tann, for adoptions, and on many different occasions she would steal children from homes of middle class families, also there were even times when children would get stolen moments after their mothers gave birth to them.5 And then Georgia Tann would give these stolen children to the people who were among the highest social class. Since this process was illegal, she was essentially selling these babies on the black market, and Georgia Tann could charge prices, of up to one million dollars.6 Tann would force these buyers to pay transportation costs, plus whatever she charged for the adoption itself. Tann would send five children to different places, where the people looking to adopt were located. As part of one of those transactions, Tann would give the money from one of the adoptions to the Tennessee Children’s Home Society, and then keep the money from the remaining adoptions for herself.7

As part of this illegal activity, Georgia Tann also began the falsification of birth certificates for the children at the Tennessee Children’s Home Society. 8She did this to cover up illegal adoption process, though she claimed that she started doing it to save the children the pain of knowing that they were adopted. The falsification of these birth certificates was noted by other states who started doing it as well. People increasingly believed that adopted children should know the truth about their adoptions, however, Georgia Tann also became the first person to open adoption records to children who were adopted.9


1 Raymond, Barbara B., and Barbara Raymond. The Baby Thief: The Untold Story of Georgia Tann, the Baby Seller Who Corrupted Adoption. Boston: Da Capo Press, 2009.
2 Zehr, M. (1991, Jun 23). Adoption scandal tangles twins' lives

3 'BABY MARKET' CHARGED. (1950, Sep 13). New York Times (1923-Current File)

4 Raymond, Barbara. "OP-ED." New York Times (1923-Current File), Jul 29, 2007.

5Zehr, M. (1991, Jun 23). Adoption scandal tangles twins' lives

6 'BABY MARKET' CHARGED. (1950, Sep 13). New York Times (1923-Current File)

7Zehr, M. (1991, Jun 23). Adoption scandal tangles twins' lives

8Raymond, Barbara. "OP-ED." New York Times (1923-Current File), Jul 29, 2007.

9Raymond, Barbara. "OP-ED." New York Times (1923-Current File), Jul 29, 2007.